Italy has elected Giorgia Meloni, its first female prime minister, whose focus on protecting the institution of the family and national identity has caused some media outlets to compare her ideology to “fascism.” The 45-year-old Meloni, the leader of the Brothers of Italy party, is slated to become Italy’s next prime minister after her party won 26% of the vote in Sunday’s Italian general election. At time of publication Brothers of Italy has captured 119 out of 400 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, Italy’s equivalent of the Australian House of Representatives, and 65 out of 200 seats in the Italian Senate. This marks a substantial change from the previous Italian government, where the Brothers of Italy had only 32 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Brothers of Italy, a party with roots dating back to the post-World War II post-fascist Italian Social Movement, is part of the centre right coalition that will form the next government.
The centre-right coalition will hold 115 out of 200 seats in the Italian Senate and 237 out of 400 seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Responding to her victory in a statement, Meloni said “the Italians have entrusted us with an important responsibility. Now it will be our task not to disappoint them and do our utmost to restore pride and dignity to our nation,” she said. The politician’s supporters see her as committed to upholding the values of God, family and country as European leaders increasingly embrace cosmopolitan and secular values of supranational organizations like the European Union as opposed to individual nation-states. However, mainstream media outlets have tied Meloni and her party to fascism. As conservative political commentator Ann Coulter pointed out, a New York Times article used the word “fascist” or “fascism” 28 times when discussing the possibility of a Meloni victory.
The New York Times article stated that Meloni’s “proposals, characterized by protectionism, tough-on-crime measures and protecting the traditional family, have a continuity with the post-Fascist parties, though updated to excoriate L.G.B.T.’ lobbies’ and migrants.” Coulter also reported that in the years following World War II, the Italian left assigned the “fascist” label to “any range of political enemies until the term was drained of much of its meaning.” A CBS News report recalled the rise of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini 100 years earlier, “marching the country into two decades of dictatorship and alongside Hitler, into World War II.” “The 45-year-old firebrand insists she’s no fascist, just a proud conservative and nationalist, comfortable nevertheless with some of the hallmarks of Italian fascism, like this motto: God, fatherland and family,” CBS’ Chris Livesay reported.
Livesay asked a supporter of Meloni why the flag of the Brothers of Italy party has “the very symbol that’s on Benito Mussolini’s tomb” if “there’s no connection with fascism.” Alberto Mingardi, a professor of history and political thought at IULM University in Milan, and Nicola Rossi, a professor of political economy at Tor Vergata University in Rome, contend that there is “no risk of authoritarianism” in Italy’s future under Meloni. “The victory has made Ms. Meloni, 45, the object of widespread international perplexity and even abuse. She has been portrayed as the heir of Benito Mussolini and the harbinger of a new fascism,” they wrote in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. “Yet whatever Italian democracy’s many faults, it isn’t toppling, and there is no risk of authoritarianism. Ms. Meloni, a career politician, has been vocal in defending Parliament’s prerogatives against encroachments by the executive branch.”
Meloni has elaborated on her philosophy in multiple speeches over the past few years. In a speech at the World Congress of Families in 2019, she asked, “Why is the family an enemy? Why is the family so frightening?” “There is a single answer to all these questions,” she suggested. “Because it defines us. Because it is our identity. Because everything that defines us is now an enemy for those who would like us to no longer have an identity and to simply be perfect consumer slaves.” Meloni lamented what she viewed as attacks on “national identity,” “religious identity,” “gender identity” and “family identity.” She expressed concern that “I can’t define myself as Italian, Christian, woman, mother” but instead must define herself as “citizen x, gender x, parent 1, parent 2.”
“I must be a number. Because when I am only a number, when I no longer have an identity or roots, then I will be the perfect slave at the mercy of financial speculators,” she added. Meloni stated that her opposition to serving as “the perfect slave at the mercy of financial speculators” is why “we inspire so much fear.” Meloni vowed to “defend the value of the human being,” stressing that “each of us has a unique genetic code that is unrepeatable.” “That is sacred. We will defend it. We will defend God, family and country, those things that disgust people so much,” Meloni said. The Italian politician cited the defence of God, family and country as necessary to “defend our freedom” and ensure that “we will never be slaves and simple consumers at the mercy of financial speculators.”
She shared a quote from G.K. Chesterton predicting that “fires will be kindled to testify that two and two make four” and that “swords will be drawn to prove that leaves are green in summer,” declaring “that time has arrived.” At a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference this year, an annual gathering of conservatives in Orlando, Florida, Meloni said “everything we stand for is under attack.” “Our individual freedom is under attack. Our rights are under attack,” she said. “The sovereignty of our nation is under attack. The prosperity and well-being of our families are under attack. The education of our children is under attack.” “People understand that in this age, the only way of being rebels is to preserve what we are,” Meloni insisted. “The only way of being rebels is to be conservatives.”
Meloni declared, “we’re not going to care about the labels they stick upon us,” and maintained that “so-called progressives use the power and the arrogance of their mainstream media to force their political opponents to change to be allowed into their inner circles.” “Once right-wing men and women are admitted into progressive inner circles, they will have changed so much that conservative people will no longer recognize them and will stop supporting them, and that’s exactly what they want,” she stated. Meloni drew parallels between the surge in illegal immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border and the situation on the Italian island of Sicily, where “thousands of migrants are allowed to enter without permission.” She contended that migrants in Italy were “cutting the salaries of our own workers and in many instances, engaging in crime.”
Meloni condemned “the woke ideology destroying the foundations of the traditional family, attacking life, insulting religion, changing words and even imposing new graphic signs.” Another speech featured Meloni declaring, “Yes to the natural family, no to the LGBT lobby, yes to sexual identity, no to gender ideology, yes to the culture of life, no to the abyss of death, no to the violence of Islam, yes to safer borders, no to mass immigration, yes to work for our people.”
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